Karma Mechanics provide musical fix with Seven Sisters show

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News

It's hard to know exactly what to expect when the Karma Mechanics take the stage. Over the past three years the band's rock and roll sound has been produced by a rotating cast of members while playing venues all over Western North Carolina. 

But when the Black Mountain band comes to the Seven Sisters Taproom's outdoor stage at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20, you can expect a good show. 

Dave Landy and Hamza Vandehey met at an open mic night at the White Horse about three years ago.

Landy was one of the 400,000 people who attended a three-day music festival in New York that came to be known as Woodstock. He's been playing music since. 

Hamza Vandehay, left, Dennis Edgar, middle and Dave Landy are some of the members of the Black Mountain band the Karma Mechanics, who will play at the Seven Sisters Taproom on Oct. 20.

Vandehey, who once hosted open jams at a now-defunct coffee house in Black Mountain, was wearing his grocery store uniform when he played with Landy for the first time.

"He comes into the White Horse with his work shirt on," Landy said of Vandehey as the band set up for practice on Oct. 9. "After like two hours of us playing he said, 'well I really should be getting back pretty soon, I'm on a half-hour break.'"

They played together for another hour, Vandehey said through a laugh. 

"And in that hour we wrote a song called 'Half-hour Break,'" Landy said. "It's a great song and we still do it."

That was the foundation on which the Karma Mechanics were built. Landy and Vandehay were joined by a mutual friend on the bass and a lead vocalist.

The name came to Vandehey during one of his favorite hobbies. 

"I was brainstorming band names," he said. "That's been one of my favorite things to do all my life. I thought of a few, but I could only remember that one."

When the young band gathered for one of its first practices, Vandehey suggested they call themselves the "Karma Mechanics." 

"It's like a play on words," he said. "It kind of stuck."

The band started playing gigs close to home and their reach has continued to grow over the years. The Karma Mechanics have performed all over the Swannanoa Valley and played venues in Asheville, Brevard and Madison County.

With Landy and Vandehey forming the base, the roster around them changes regularly. 

"We're really more of a collective," Landy said. 

Currently, Landy, Vandehey, Dan Toomey and Scott Jones are the core of the band, but the pieces change regularly. 

"Sometimes other people show up and jam with us," Landy said. "Tonight we're practicing with Dennis Edgar on the drums." 

The ability to improvise and adapt is something the Karma Mechanics pride themselves on, Vandehey said. 

"We still kind of have that improvisational, spontaneous spark," he said. "Dave's always writing songs so we learn them just enough to kind of keep them in our pocket and then he pulls them out, so they're always kind of fresh."

Music shouldn't be note for note, Landy said. 

"(Bob) Dylan never played they same thing twice," he added. 

"Right, and if he didn't do it then why should we?" Vandehey said. 

Their adaptability came in handy at the Town Pump last November when they were joined by a surprise guest. During a set break they were approached by Artimus Pyle, a Black Mountain resident and former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. 

"He came up to us and asked if we did any Bo Diddley," Landy said. "He ended up playing with us for a little while. It was a great moment for us and he's a really fun guy."

Their upcoming show at Seven Sisters will be the band's fourth time performing there, and the Karma Mechanics are excited to return, according to Landy. 

"Black Mountain is always a great crowd," he said. "We love playing here in our hometown."